Assessing Occupational Exposure to Surface Contaminants in Kuwaiti Educational Buildings

Abdul-Salam Al-Temeemi (College of Technology, Kuwait)
Jamal Al-Hubail (College of Technology, Kuwait)
Ahmad Al-Khayat (Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Kuwait)

Article ID: 843


The prevalence of surface contaminants, such as potentially harmful bacteria, within building environments in the State of Kuwait is not known.
To the authors’ knowledge, this article is the frst of such a report. A total of 342 stool samples were collected from 46 secondary schools to evaluate indoor occurrences of E. coli bacteria within selected lavatory surfaces. After microbiological testing, the results for the spread of the E. coli bacteria were categorized by total count, sampling location dependency, contamination level comparison between genders, and lavatory fxtures (i.e. seat and squat toilets). The results revealed that 7 schools have a bacterial contamination problem, there is cross-contamination between surfaces in the lavatory stalls, the boys’ lavatories were less sanitary than the girls’, and that the squat-style toilets are more contaminated than the seat-style. The results suggest that there is signifcant risk of spread of bacterial infection among students via contaminated hands and surfaces in the lavatory area in some schools. Thus, this study emphasizes the need to improve environmental hygiene and enhanced sanitation in these schools. In addition, conclusions can be drawn as to the effectiveness of the janitorial staff employed by the schools and the effcacy of the cleaning regime used in the lavatories. Furthermore, based on the fndings, there are architectural design consequences as squat-style toilets might be excluded in lavatories designed for schools to be constructed in the future.


Surface bacteria; Occupational health; School buildings;Built environment;Sick building syndrome

Full Text:



[1] MENDES M.P., LYNCH D.J. A bacteriological survey of washrooms and toilets. J. Hyg. 76, 183-90, 1976.

[2] SCOTT E., BLOOMFIELD S.F. A bacteriological investigation of the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection procedures for toilet hygiene. J. Appl. Bacteriol. 59, 291-7, 1985.

[3] MKRTCHYAN H.V., RUSSELL C.A., WANG N.,CUTLER R.R. Could public restrooms be an environment for bacterial resistomes? PLoS One. 8,e54223, 2013.

[4] MOHAMED M., OWENS K., GAJEWSKI A.,CLABOTS C., JOHNSTON B., THURAS P., KUSKOWSKI M.A.; JOHNSON J.R. Extraintestinal pathogenic and antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia

[5] coli contamination of 56 public restrooms in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81, 4498-506, 2015.

[6] CHOI H.Y., KWON W.T., LEE W.S., LEE H. Research on bacterial distribution of public lavatory. Korean J. Environ. Health Sci. 38, 520-8, 2012,

[7] VERNON S., LUNDBLAD B., HELLSTROM A.L. Children’s experiences of school toilets present a risk to their physical and psychological health. Child Care Health Dev. 29, 47-53, 2003.

[8] SAPS M., SZTAINBERG M., DI LORENZO C. A prospective community-based study of gastroenterological symptoms in school-age children. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 43, 477-82, 2006.

[9] KALTENTHALER E.C., ELSWORTH A.M., SCHWEIGER M.S., BRAUNHOLTZ D.A. Faecal contamination on children’s hands and environmental surfaces in primary schools in Leeds. Epidemiol. Infect. 115, 527-34, 1995.

[10] MOE, C.L.; CHRISTMAS, W.A.; ECHOLS, L.J.; MILLER, S.E. Outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis associated with Norwalk-like viruses in campus settings. J. Am. Coll. Health. 50, 57-66, 2001.

[11] KYRIACOU A., DRAKOPOULOU S., GEORGAKI I., FOUNTOULAKIS M., MITSOU E., LASARIDI K.E., MANIOS Y., MANIOS T. Screening for faecal contamination in primary schools in Crete, Greece. Child Care Health Dev. 35, 159-63, 2009.

[12] MARLER B. The E. coli O157:H7 Bacteria and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Marler Blog. (2009). Accessed 13 February 2016.

[13] WILLIAMSON J. Copper Connection: Bend it like copper. Plumbing Connection. 96-97, 2008.

[14] MESSINA M.J., BRODELL L.A., BRODELL R.T., MOSTOW E.N. Hand hygiene in the dermatologist’s offce: to wash or to rub? J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 59,1043-9, 2008.

[15] KHAN M.U. Interruption of shigellosis by hand washing. Trans. R. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg. 76, 164-8,1982.

[16] BORRELI L., Hover vs. cover the toilet seat: the best way to reduce germs from using a public bathroom. Medical Daily. (2014). Accessed 3 February 2016.

[17] MOLOTCH H., NORÉN L., Toilet: public restrooms and the politics of sharing. NYU Press, New York. 2010.

[18] MUKHIYA R.K., RAI S.K., KARKI A.B., PRAJAPATI. A. Intestinal protozoan parasitic infection among school children. J. Nepal Health Res. Counc.10, 204-7, 2012.

[19] Kuwait Central Statistical Bureau: Annual Bulletin of Education Statistics 2014/2015, (2014). Accessed 2 February 2016.

[20] MEIGHAN P. Validation of the MicroSnap Coliform and E. coli Test System for Enumeration and Detection of Coliforms and E. coli in a variety of foods. J.AOAC Int. 97, 453-78, 2014.



  • There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright © 2019 Abdul-Salam Al-Temeemi, Jamal Al-Hubail, Ahmad Al-Khayat

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.